Issue: (composed by On Point):
Does the doctrine of sovereign immunity bar a person’s recovery for personal injuries that he sustains while in the custody of the Department of Corrections?
While the State Public defender cannot represent inmates in personal injury litigation against the DOC, this issue is important to clients who are hurt while in its custody. Mayhugh was an inmate at Redgranite Correctional Institution when he was hit in the head by a foul ball while sitting in the bleachers watching a softball game. He sustained serious permanent injuries, and thus filed a tort action against the DOC alleging negligent design of the baseball field. Naturally the, State moved to dismiss claiming sovereign immunity. The answer will turn on what §301.04 means when it says “the department may sue and be sued” and whether the DOC is an “independent state agency,” because the doctrine of sovereign immunity does not apply to such entities.